Monday, March 18, 2013
Binge Drinking: Who is at risk and why should we be concerned?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), binge drinking is “the most common pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States.” Visit almost any campus, on any weekend, and I would be willing to bet that you will find students and student-athletes participating in binge drinking.
Let’s look at a few facts:
- Binge drinking is said to be more common amongst young adults aged 18-34
- The prevalence of binge drinking among men is twice as much as women
- 90% of alcohol consumed by youth under the age of 21 in the United States is in the form of binge drinking
We also know, according the 2009 NCAA Study of Substance Use of College Student-Athletes:
- 83.1% of respondents indicated drinking within the year (male and female)
- 47% of those reporting alcohol usage reported drinking six to ten plus drinks in a sitting (binge drinking)
- 54% of the respondents indicated drinking both during their competitive and off season
- Student-athletes are at a higher risk for such behaviors
As you can see, it’s no mystery that student-athletes are at risk for, or are participating in the act of, binge drinking. Alcohol consumption has been and continues to be an issue at the collegiate level.
So what is “binge drinking” and why should we be concerned?
Binge drinking is typically defined as, for men, consuming five or more drinks within a period of two hours. For women, four or more drinks within the same time period is typically classified as binge drinking.
Some of the common issues that we see associated with binge drinking include:
- Memory issues – disrupting sleep cycles and prohibiting one’s ability to retain information.
- Hydration issues – decreasing the body’s state of hydration, which can be a real problem for student-athletes that are trying to perform at the highest level.
- Injury issues – poor food choices, dehydration and depletion of nutrients can all lead to injuries.
- Alcohol poisoning – always dangerous and can sometimes lead to death.
- High blood pressure, stroke or other cardiovascular issues – it can and does happen.
- Unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases – it can be prevented.
As you can see, none of the above issues associated with binge drinking is conducive to a student-athletes career. It is our job as educators to make sure that student-athletes are aware of the risks associated with the use of alcohol, and in particular, binge drinking. There is no one method that is a cure-all to this issue, but here are a few links that may be helpful.